FGD #81: Home Ice Advantage – One Last Battle


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(Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports)

A year ago, the Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks did battle in the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. It was supposed to be a step forward for both groups. Unfortunately, it was followed up with a season of mediocrity (and occasional zaniness) for each group, and tonight’s final home game at the Scotiabank Saddledome is as meaningless for the two clubs as last spring’s battles were meaningful.

As for tonight? It’s 40 guys on the ice who are just trying not to get injured before golf season opens up on Sunday.

The puck drops at 7pm MT on Sportsnet West and Sportsnet 960 The Fan!

Join in on tonight’s Money on the Board fundraiser for Kids Up Front Calgary!

For a view from the other side, check out the preview from our frenemies at Canucks Army!

THE FLAMES

Projected lines from Daily Faceoff:

Hunter ShinkarukSean MonahanJohnny Gaudreau
Drew ShoreMikael BacklundJoe Colborne
Micheal FerlandSam BennettJosh Jooris


Brandon BolligMatt StajanDerek Grant
T.J. BrodieDougie Hamilton
Mark GiordanoDeryk Engelland 

Jyrki JokipakkaJakub Nakladal

Joni Ortio makes his 19th (and final) start of the season. He’s 6-9-5 with a 2.74 goals against average and .912 even-strength save percentage. The Flames are without Karri Ramo, Dennis Wideman, Ladislav Smid and Lance Bouma. They’ll also be without Michael Frolik, at least for tonight, so welcome back to the NHL, Drew Shore.

Shore gets the plum job of playing with Mikael Backlund, which has been a recipe for many, many points recently. Also keep an eye on Backlund – who looooves playing the Canucks – and that top line, who will be motivated playing against the Canucks (particularly that Hunter Shinkaruk kid).

Beware: Bob Hartley said this morning that he’ll be shuffling lines. Don’t get too attached to any pairings or groups. We’ll try to keep on top of the shuffling on Twitter and post-game to give you some idea of how the random lines did.

THE CANUCKS

Lines from yesterday’s 5-2 loss in Edmonton:

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Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 10.10.10 PM

As Jacob Markstrom started (and lost) up in Edmonton last night, likely Ryan Miller gets the start tonight. He’s 17-23-9 with a 2.61 goals against average and .926 even-strength save percentage. He’s been pretty good, but Vancouver has struggled offensively.

You want storylines? Well, Jake Virtanen comes back to Calgary after a full season in the NHL (he played for the Hitmen) and it’s Markus Granlund’s return to town after being traded to Vancouver before the trade deadline. In addition, these are two teams that just don’t like each other very much. That could add a bit of flavour to what’s otherwise just a meaningless 81st game of the season for both teams.

THE NUMBERS

CALGARY VANCOUVER
Wins 33 30
Power Play 16.7% 15.9%
Penalty Kill 74.9% 81.8%
Score-Adjusted Corsi 47.6% 46.8%
Faceoffs 48.7% 45.3%

WHEN LAST WE MET

This is the fifth and final game between these two teams this season. Calgary has won three of four meetings so far this season. Vancouver beat Calgary in October (5-1), but the Flames have won their subsequent 3-2 (in overtime), 4-1 and 5-2.

This is the 264th meeting between these two teams in the regular season. The Flames have a 128-89-46 record against Vancouver all-time.

THE RACE TO THE BOTTOM

Screen Shot 2016-04-06 at 10.07.57 PM

The only “real” implications here are draft implications.

HOME ICE HERO

Our pals at ATB have spent the 2015-16 season honouring Alberta’s
home-ice heroes. The contest is closed for this season, but head on over
to ATB’s site (or their YouTube channel) and check out the profiles of five well-deserving individuals that make a big difference in their lucky hockey communities!

SUM IT UP

It’s Calgary versus Vancouver, so despite all pronouncements of how pointless this game is beforehand, you know it’ll be fairly fun to watch because of the animosity of the two teams involved.

  • McRib

    How bad are the Vancouver Canucks? They come into Alberta and lose two games by a combined score of 13-5. Honestly at least Edmonton has McDavid, Draisaitl, Hall, RNH, Nurse, etc. Toronto has Nylander, Marner, Reilly, Gardiner, etc.

    Vancouver has to have the most bleak future of any NHL Team in the league, one could also argue that they were the absolutely worst team in NHL down the stretch the last few months with the Sedins hesitant to want to move things could still get very ugly before they start improving there.

    • Stu Cazz

      Yup..that’s what happens when an organization assumes that a former star player can strategically run a hockey team. Linden is a great guy but does he have the core competency required?? Kevin Lowe and the Oilers is the prime example of that failure…Thankfully the Flames denied Lanny of the same opportunity he so desired…his relationship with the team has never been the same…regardless you need to separate hockey relationship with business savy….

      • McRib

        Yeah who are the only two NHL GMs with the least player experience to not even play as high as the AHL, Dean Lombardi, Stan Bowman. What NHL Teams have won the last five Stanley Cups? Exactly. Because you are a former player outside of some exceptions (Yzerman, although that had more to do with him interning under Holland in Detroit) it doesn’t automatically mean you have the business acumine to be an NHL GM.

        Trevor Linden’s “real world business experience” outside of being named President of the Canucks after retirement consisted of what riding a bicycle for certain charities. That press conference was laughable when they announced him. He wasn’t even involved in any aspect of Hockey Operations (looking in Toronto at least Shanahan was involved with NHL player safety).

        It’s funny you mention Lanny McDonald, I played against his son growing up, a team he always coached. He was hardly qualified to be a mediocre pewee aaa coach, our regular “dad” peewee coach constantly out coached him every year growing up. Glad Lanny McDonald sticks to car dealership ads that’s for sure!

        • Stu Cazz

          Bang on…a former Flames player the I believe would have excelled in running the Flames is Jim Peplinski..he has tons of business smarts but has continuously denied the Flames because of his own business successes running his auto dealerships that he not only inherited from his father in law but actually elevated the business to higher levels.

          With regards to Linden his incompetence is lingering in that he hired Jim Benning, a former teammate and buddy…well after being fleeced by Treliving in the Baerschi and Granlund trades his fate will soon be determined and come to closure….

  • Drewski

    I am a noted Backs sceptic….but he has been lights out the last 20 games. Even when he went through the dry spell recently he was creating chances. Fairly stoked to see him carry this into next year. Last time I had this much optimism about his game was when he was centering Iggys’ line in preseason before breaking his wrist.

    Sorry WW, you will have to carry the torch without me.

    BTW getting the confirmation email from Oilers Nation HQ when I finally created an account felt dirty and wrong

  • Flaymin Frank

    @ BC Cowboy.

    Exactly. The draft is a form of corporate welfare. Where else in real life is one rewarded for doing a crap job? Professional sports – that’s where. In the big scheme of things the League is trying to achieve parity or at least lend a hand to struggling organizations.

    But sometimes, for some reason, a welfare mentality takes root if you go to the trough too often. See Oilers for most recent example.